It's not often Brian and Alex let me out of my cage to write, but with the season quickly approaching it was time to get in a few thoughts. Sleepers are always a hot topic and consider this one man’s Top College Fantasy Football Surprise players from each conference.
Pac 10: Ryan Katz, QB, Oregon St.
Sure he only played in garbage time at the end of the bowl loss to BYU. Still, he gave a tantalizing glimpse of his potential. As our own Pac10 blogger, Tyler Holmes, points out here
, the Beavers will return 4 offensive linemen along with the amazing Rodgers brothers. Add in Darrell Catchings
at wide receiver and TE Joe Halahuni
and you have the makings of an offensive powerhouse.
Big 12: Baron Batch, RB, Texas Tech
Some of you won’t consider him a surprise, but for a talented running back who has been mired in captain hook’s offense for several years, he stands to benefit most from Tommy T’s arrival in Lubbock. There’s no denying this kid’s talent, just get him the rock!
The Florida State wide receiver got consistent looks from Christian Ponder last season, and this year should be no different. Except, this year he’s going to convert more! And Fortson is a weapon in the red zone. I see him topping 1000 yards and 10 TDs this year.
Big East: Ray Graham, RB, Pittsburgh
Sure, he has Dion Lewis in front of him and Wanny is perfectly content to run his number one back into the ground. But this Pitt running back is just too good to keep off the field. He’s not a reliable fantasy starter at this point, but I think his numbers at the end of the year will surprise you.
Big Ten: Keshawn Martin, WR, Michigan State
Martin is about to become a legitimate fantasy starter at WR in BCS leagues. With Keith Nichol moving to WR full time, Martin will be the Spartans change of pace QB (Wildcat). As our own Erik Tjaden points out here, Martin knows how to turn his limited touches into TDs. Expect his touches to double this year, and the fantasy stats will follow.
This was the toughest BCS conference from which to pick a “surprise” player. Last year I was very high on Randall Cobb and Montario Hardesty, but this year the pickings are slim. I’m going with Matthews despite the inexperienced offensive line and the brewing quarterback controversy. I like the talent at RB, I like Randall Cobb and gosh darn it I think Mike Hartline is a decent QB (who should win the starting job). The Wildcats need another offensive weapon to step up and Matthews is the guy this year.
The Marshall running back was one of the few offensive bright spots in a sluggish Little Ceaser’s Pizza Bowl last year. With the departure of Darius Marshall there are a lot of carries to be had, and Ward should be first in line to benefit.
This might be a bit of a cop out, but with Harvey Unga officially out of the picture, we’ll be looking at a new running back to take over the show. J.J. Di Luigi and Bryan Kariya have some experience, but I get the feeling the coaching staff isn’t ready to let either of these guys run as the featured back. JQ is the hot recruit, and he’ll get the chance to shine.
The Idaho running back showed well last year, but now that DeMaundray Woolridge has moved on, he’ll see a bigger dose of carries and looks in the red zone.
Sun Belt: Rob Housler, TE, Florida Atlantic
I’ll admit I’m piggy backing off of fellow insider Alex Esselink in calling for Housler’s return to glory. But the story is too compelling to dismiss. An offense that uses the TE heavily. A solid performer sidelined and ready to step back in to the starring role.
MAC: Kito Poblah, WR, Central Michigan
He’s a legit performer at wide receiver for Central Michigan. Poblah has been overshadowed for a couple years by Antonio Brown and Bryan Anderson. He’ll be breaking in a new quarterback and a new coaching staff, but head coach and former quarterback Dan Enos should utilize his best weapon and make KP a household name in fantasy circles this year.